While life is full of hardships, perhaps one of the most torturous forms a hardship can take is watching a loved one go down the addiction wormhole. As they gradually lose their sense of control, it feels like you’re watching from the sidelines as they transform into someone you can barely recognize. At the same time, dealing with them becomes extremely difficult as you’re forced into the almost impossible task of making the choices they need, but don’t necessarily want, to make. So just how exactly are you supposed to help your loved one in this state without causing them any more harm? If you’re feeling too lost as to where you need to begin, here are some guiding steps to help you.

1. Learn to Look for Addiction Signs

Frankly speaking, the probability that someone who’s fallen victim to substance abuse would own up to their actions and admit their addiction is pretty low. In most cases, an addict will try everything they can to hide their substance abuse, going to extreme measures to keep pretenses at all costs. Since the severity and treatment course of every kind of addiction depends largely on the kind of substance used, knowing how to help your loved one start by recognizing the signs of the addiction they’re suffering from. This will also give you insight as to their habits in using the substance and how they went so out of control.

2. Seek Professional Help

Regardless of how much you care for your loved one, you can only do so much for them. At a certain point, you’ll need to look for professional help to give them the help they truly need. As the rehab experts at iRecover explain, rehab and addiction treatment centers incorporate a number of techniques to treat all admitted patients, guiding them through the process until they get back the control they’d lost over their lives. During the treatment course, patients go through extensive treatment protocols, including drug detox, cognitive behavioral therapy, group activities, mindfulness activities, and alternative medicine treatments. Following this life-changing experience, they can be discharged as upstanding, responsible, and productive citizens.

3. Understand the Nature of Their Addiction

Narrowing down their addiction by following the signs and reaching a conclusion is only the first step towards understanding what your loved one is going through. Next comes understanding the nature of their addiction, which helps you in building a clearer image of their physical, mental, and emotional state. After all, becoming dependent on a substance causes significant physiological, mental, and emotional changes and these changes depend on the kind of substance and the duration and frequency of usage.

4. Look for the Best Way to Approach them

The information you’ve gathered so far will make a world of difference in how you approach them. For instance, you can’t expect someone suffering from severe withdrawal to be understanding or act rationally while you’re trying to explain to them how their actions hurt those around them. At the same time, ambushing someone who’s already feeling ashamed and paranoid will be counterproductive, as they’ll be forced into a corner and build stronger walls around themselves.

5. Support Them But Avoid Enabling Behavior

There’s a very fine line between showing your loved one support and enabling their substance abuse behavior. Showing your support means to be kind, understanding, patient, and empathetic while avoiding any shaming or accusing behavior. On the other hand, your loved one needs to realize how their behavior harms those both their own selves and those around them, as that’s the first step toward taking responsibility for their actions. For that to happen, you can’t keep sheltering them from the consequences of their own actions, turn a blind eye toward their behavior, or take the blame for their actions. You need to, somehow, find the balance between both actions.

6. Be Realistic, Don’t Lose Yourself

Finally, you need to prepare yourself for what you’re about to go through. The road you’re about to embark upon is too bumpy, heartbreaking, confusing, and difficult to bear. Unless you brace yourself for what you’re about to face, you won’t be able to pull yourself, much less your loved one, through. It’s important to understand that addiction is a disease that changes the way a human function and that it’s very common for ex-addicts to relapse. Keep your mental health strong, be patient, and remember to take care of yourself as well.

In order to help a loved one find their way out of addiction, you’ll need to brace yourself for what’s about to come. You’ll never be able to provide the help they need unless you understand what they’re going through and find the best way to suggest professional help in a way they’ll accept. It’s important to show your support and acceptance all through the process, but make sure to avoid enabling behavior and to take care of yourself.